I couldn’t wait to finally get my hands on a copy of the latest iteration of Apple’s OS and the postal strike here in the UK made matters worse.

Last Saturday the disc finally arrived! It didn’t take long to upgrade the system from Leopard and the process was smooth and polished - almost zero user input required as we are used form Apple.

Now to the actual OS: Well, startup and shutdown is noticeably faster but to be honest I couldn’t see a massive speed up in the main system. To be fair, it was pretty speedy on Leopard already and I never had the feeling that it was sluggish; therefore it probably went  from pretty fast to very fast and maybe that difference isn’t so big.

Lets get to the improvements. These aren’t earth-shaking but many of them fall under the category “Oh, that’s nice”.

  • Working CD/DVD burning support: This was a major gripe of mine on Leopard. Disc writing would often fail and Disk Utility was awful for burning - Leopard’s “burn folders” never worked either. If that wasn’t such a basic thing I would say “Well Done” to Apple but this should have been way better a long time ago.

  • Expose is more useful: Instead of the old seemingly random positioning of the windows they now arrange themselves on a grid and the dock and the menu bar turn black which I like better. Also, if you click on an active dock icon and then hold you can see all the windows that the program has open at this point in time.
  • Dock stacks are scrollable: Again this really isn’t a killer feature.
  • Address Book can sync with GMail: I’m liking that.
  • Quick Time looks nicer: I’m not quite sure what has happened under the hood there but I like the new interface. Just get yourself Perian and it is almost as good as VLC.
  • Mail supports Exchange server: Even though I didn’t test this, as I use neither, this could come in handy. It also means that Exchange server is better supported out-of-the box on OS X than on Windows - go figure.

Apparently, there is all sorts of stuff happening with Grand Central and OpenCL but I rarely have an application that is heavy on either CPU or GPU so this doesn’t really matter to me but is nice to know. Almost all of my programs still worked fine under Snow Leopard; the only one where I had to use a beta version is Cyberduck.

There is one little gripe: I used to have a developer preview version of Safari 4 which allowed websites to be saved as a web application which then had it own dock icon (and presumably its own process). I assumed this feature was held back until Snow Leopard came out but I can’t seem to find it. Hmm.


I like it particularly for the fact that it isn’t jam-packed with features that no-one needs but is a good solid exercise in improving the core of the system. I got this update for £10 and I think even £30 would be no-brainer for all Leopard users. I don’t think I would pay the full retail price (£129.00 for the box set with iLife) for it though.